Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Young Workers Aren’t as Smart as they Think They Are

But they’re smarter than the rest of us

If you think the youngest generation of workers is hard to comprehend sometimes, you’re not alone. About two-thirds of companies around the world consider themselves deficient in developing millennial leadership according to
Deloitte’s 2014 Global Human Capital Trends. And less than one in twenty companies (5%) rated themselves as “excellent” in that area.

Part of the trouble with developing young talent, Deloitte says, is that millennials—generally considered to be those in the 18-35 age group--approach their careers very differently than previous generations. They expect to rise fast, and if they don’t, they look for other opportunities. Deloitte’s data showed that only 55 percent of millennials say they are loyal to their companies (compared to 69 percent of other generations). This means it’s important for companies to find ways to help young talent see the opportunities within their companies.

Our Take: If you have disgruntled, underperforming or otherwise disengaged young people on your payroll, talk a closer look at the manager or your hiring practices. Most employees, particularly young people, come into a new job with a strong work ethic and the best of intentions. Something has to happen along the way to derail them. In most cases, they’re not in the right job, they’re not working for the right type of manager or they’re not assigned to the right kind of team.

Here’s more from the Deloitte research:

1. Millennials want face time. 
Spending time with senior leadership is one way to convince employees that they, too, could eventually rise to that level.

2. They want to jump around. Millennials in the business world are fickle. They want to explore new opportunities far more quickly than past generations. They’re not necessarily job hoppers, but they value the opportunity to move around organizations—not just for promotions, but also horizontally. An employee who spends a year in sales might appreciate the opportunity to work in a different department for a while if their skills are a fit. And if that employee has leadership potential, it’s all the more valuable to the organization to give them a better-rounded look at the company.

3. They need a different type of manager. Research says organizations need to shift the mindset of what a good manager does away from hitting those departmental goals—which rely on what he calls talent consumption (or, put less kindly, talent hoarding)—to graduating employees into better positions—or talent production. That shift would serve to give companies a better sense for their managers’ talent development skills while giving young talent the opportunity to grow.

Our Take: Here’s what we’ve learned here at HB. Millennials are like young workers of the past in some regards: They want to be challenged right away and to find meaningful work right away. They are highly motivated and willing to work long hours—IF they see a potential payoff (not necessarily monetary). They are highly adaptable. They don’t think their elders “paid their dues” as much as their elders claim they did. They think the academic world is directly transferable to the real-world (i.e. book knowledge directly applies, everything is fair and everyone at the company is as smart and motivated as they are).

Here are some ways in which we’ve found millenials are different. Obviously, they are far more technologically savvy than the rest of us. They should be. They’re digital natives, not digital adopters, who grew up with technology, mobile and social etc.—they didn’t really have to learn it. They only try to perfect it.

Contrary to popular opinion, Millennials WILL pick up the phone and talk to people and they will network and meet people face-to-face. Texting and social media is their preferred form of communication, but they will use more traditional forms of communication if their job requires it. The upside is they tend to be fast learners. Give them a little training and guidance and they will not only rise to the challenge, they will do it well.

While there is no shortage of 20-something CEOs heading multibillion dollar tech startups, it’s not all about the money for this generation. They want meaningful work and real-life experiences—they tend to be less about the money than their Boomer parents and Gen X elders. Even those working at law firms, investment banks and tech startups want work/life balance. And while the stereotype is that Millennials are not “joiners”—i.e. they don’t automatically join their industry trade association, professional society, community board or religious organization--they will join communities, both real and virtual ones, if the community can convince them of the true value in belonging.


Remember, Millennials come out of school with a built in network of connections that’s hundreds of times larger than the networks previous generations had so early in life. They don’t need to join an organization just for networking purposes.

Our blog has more, as does the FREE Resources page of our website.


TAGS: Millennials in the workplace, recruiting and retaining talent, Deloitte’s 2014 Global Human Capital Trends,

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